Mascom founder Strive Masiyiwa is the "secret" partner to whom MTN wants to sell its stake in the mobile operator, BusinessWeek reported.
The proposed deal has reportedly displeased sections of the Mascom board, which is dominated by representatives of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).
Bloomberg reported on 05 March that MTN's stake, acquired in 2005, is about 53 percent and worth up to BWP 3.2 billion. Bloomberg did not report the identity of the proposed purchaser of the shares.
Mascom's shareholding is a complex affair and available information indicates that while the BPOPF holds the majority directly, MTN is in the majority indirectly, said BusinessWeek. Mascom is one of the pension fund's most lucrative investments, with a value of BWP 1.6 billion in 2015/16.
Masiyiwa founded Mascom in 1998, giving it his surname, before gradually selling off his direct and indirect interests. Any remaining interest is reported to be minimal. Bloomberg reported that MTN group CEO Rob Shuter had previously expressed his desire to see MTN reduce the number of countries in which it operates.
Sources close to the latest development said Masiyiwa's identity had been revealed at a recent board meeting when MTN directors briefed their BPOPF peers on the plan to divest from Mascom. The source said MTN directors recently told the board that they had been approached with a buy-out offer by an investor and that they were interested in offloading their shareholding to that investor.
In addition, directors raised questions about the valuation of the proposed deal and said a due diligence would have to be conducted before any disposal process began.